Justice Department Tells DEA To Leave Marijuana Users Alone
One of the most crucial tenets of the American government is the fact that States have the right to govern themselves.
Fourteen states have already taken this right to heart by passing legislation that allows the growth, sale and use of medical marijuana. Regardless of the fact that, according to state law, patients prescribed marijuana aren't doing anything illegal; dispensaries, growers and patients have been continually harassed and even arrested by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Thanks to a memo just released by the Justice Department, however, these patients and business people are no longer to be the target of federal investigations.
"Under the policy spelled out in a three-page legal memo, federal prosecutors are being told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.
The guidelines issued by the department do, however, make it clear that federal agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes" (Associated Press).
Just to give you an idea about how long overdue this decision is: Lester Grinspoon, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, wrote in an Aug. 17, 2003 article published in the Boston Globe:
"Doctors and nurses have seen that for many patients, cannabis is more useful, less toxic, and less expensive than the conventional medicines prescribed for diverse syndromes and symptoms, including multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, migraine headaches, severe nausea and vomiting, convulsive disorders, the AIDS wasting syndrome, chronic pain, and many others."
This policy change is a huge departure from the way that medical marijuana use was viewed by the last administration, which pledged to continue to vigorously pursue medical marijuana users regardless of any laws passed in the states themselves.
"This is a major step forward," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "This change in policy moves the federal government dramatically toward respecting scientific and practical reality."
14 states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.